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Meet Su Lim of Su Lim Therapy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Su Lim.

Su, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Everyone has a story. That’s what got me interested in psychology and becoming a therapist. Mine began when I hid myself away in my room as a young child to escape the bickering of my soon-to-be-divorced parents. I stared outside my bedroom window, which overlooked the Beatles’ famous Abbey Road pedestrian crossing in North London, and lost myself in stories. I read stories and I wrote stories. I penned my first screenplay at the age of nine, a precociously lengthy 250 page manuscript about love and movies in the golden age of Hollywood musicals.

Years later, a boyfriend introduced me to the joys of 16mm filmmaking. We worked on a friend’s student film and I was hooked. Although I was on track to become a lawyer, and even graduated top of my year with a London University law degree, I took a job as a “runner” on a film set just a month after finishing college. Duties included making tea for Sir Alec Guinness. My children, even today, are in awe that I knew Obi Wan Kenobi! I worked my way up the ranks of movie production, and even returned to my “Beatles roots” by working a couple of times for George Harrison at his film company. Before long, it made sense to move to Hollywood. I started working with writers and directors on screenplay development as a VP of Production for German-based financiers. We were involved in financing a number of movies, including “The Usual Suspects”, a great example of a great story.

I loved working in film for many years but personal family challenges began to affect my life, which exacerbated my already increasing disillusionment with the business. For nearly a year, I attended al-anon group meetings, an invaluable resource for friends/family members affected by the behavior of alcoholics and addicts in their lives. Hearing the stories shared made me realize that I might be able to contribute something, to make a change and to educate myself to help others. I really wanted to try to make a difference in a more personal and meaningful way.

I knew I had to get my MA in Clinical Psychology quickly as I had a family to help support, and could not proceed at a leisurely pace. So I threw myself into completing my Masters in 14 months, followed by the required 3000 internship licensing hours for the next two years. I loved my training, and could not wait to have my own private practice and to start working.

So it is still all about the story, as it has been for me since childhood, but now it’s about real life stories.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Getting my qualifications as an older student returning to college after such a long period, while looking after three young kids and trying to make a living, was a juggling act for sure! But our apartment was just a few blocks from the beach in Santa Monica, and having spent much of my life in rain-battered England, seeing blue skies and palm trees had the power to lift my spirits enormously. Having such cool and supportive kids also helped.

When I first set up my private practice, I made myself believe that if you build it they will come! I already had 8 loyal clients who had followed me from previous workplaces, including the counseling center where I had trained as an intern. Friends enthusiastically posted my information on their social media to spread the word. Many were in the professional tech, finance, political and entertainment fields, who knew that with my background and experience I would be a good fit. I had always been considered to be someone who was a good listener and a safe person to tell problems to, so this was just taking it one step further to be doing it professionally!

It was a nerve wracking first couple of months, wondering if I would have much left over after paying my office rent. But I was fortunate in that there were a couple of general practitioner doctors who had confidence in me and started referring patients. These clients in turn referred their friends and colleagues, and so on, and I ended my first year with a satisfyingly busy schedule that has continued to grow each year. I am proud of the work I do, and have had good results.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with my own private practice. My primary office is in Westwood and my second office in Santa Monica, a block from the beach. I am truly blessed to have a diverse and committed client base. I see mainly adult individuals and couples, but sometimes clients will ask to bring in partners, children or other family members for occasional sessions, to help the work we do together.

I specialize in the treatment of anxiety and stress management. My background makes me particularly suited to clients working in the creative and professional fields, but I am also a provider for UCLA counseling services and enjoy working with college students to help give them tools to deal with academic and/or social pressures.

Living in Los Angeles can be wonderful but also demanding in so many ways. The effort to maintain a certain lifestyle and keep up with our aspirations (as well as those of loved ones for us, perhaps) can be all-consuming. The yo-yo emotions of feeling like you’re on top of the world one day, only to come crashing down the next can be frustrating and debilitating. I appreciate the trust which my clients have in me to help them navigate their problems to find a solution, as well as to be there for them to process difficult feelings and memories when they feel ready for this.

What I love most about my work is the intimacy of the relationships, although of course it can take some time for clients to really open up and trust, depending on their history.

I have lived and worked in South East Asia, England and the US. I believe this has helped me with what I feel is a unique perspective on different cultures. I have a lot of experience working with mixed race couples and am sensitive in working through issues with clients from different backgrounds. I often hear from Asian clients that it’s been a challenge for them to find a therapist with an understanding of the politics and pressures of traditional families, and that they are relieved I “get it”.

My approach is eclectic and drawn from both short and long-term evidence-based techniques as I believe it’s important to take into account each individual’s specific needs. I don’t think it works to have a one size fits all approach, in terms of the different therapeutic modalities. My approach is framed around a client’s specific needs and level of comfort with the pace. I am careful not to move faster than a client is able to handle.

I regularly attend conferences and workshops, as I believe there is always more to learn. It’s important to me to stay on my toes to ensure that I am up to date with developments in the field.

For couples coming in whose marriage is over and who do not want counseling to save the relationship but prefer to  have mediation for an uncontested divorce, I am also trained in divorce mediation. This process can be easier, quicker, more emotionally supported as I am a trained therapist, and less expensive than going through lawyers.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 1328 Westwood Blvd #16, Los Angeles, CA 90024
    1137 2nd Street #120, Santa Monica, CA 90403
  • Website: www.sulimtherapy.com
  • Phone: 310 717 0332
  • Email: su@sulimtherapy.com

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Jim

    December 22, 2017 at 00:50

    Great article. I remember my practice years ago and this makes me homesick.

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